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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 109: Masters of Horror: Right To Die

Masters of Horror: Right To Die
Not a mummy movie

Creating stories “ripped from the headlines” seems like a pretty popular idea these days. CSI, Law and Order, and the million other crime and court shows love to do this. It gets people interested and, if we're being honest, it's easier than coming up with an original story. Creating a horror movie based off a real life events is a bit trickier, especially when the events are politically charged and divisive in nature. Could it at least be entertaining?

Masters of Horror: Right To Die stars Martin Donovan (Weeds, Saved!) as dentist Cliff Addison and Julia Benson as his wife Abby. On a deserted road, Cliff gets into a car accident and Abby is badly burned. In the hospital, Cliff is told that there is a procedure that will allow her to live, but she would not be able to take care of herself. He consults with his attorney, Ira, (Corbin Bernsen, Major League, L.A. Law) about her condition and is convinced to end her life. Cliff reveals that he had an affair with his dental assistant Trish and that Abby knew about it. Cliff hallucinates that he is having sex with Abby who then turns into her current burned form. Meanwhile, Abby briefly died in real life and Cliff appeared to have a strange burn mark on his skin. Abby's mother arrives at Cliff's house and tells him that she will not let him end Abby's life and that he will never get her money. While a public fight breaks out over the right to life and right to death, Cliff continues to have strange hallucinations involving Abby. Cliff eventually wins the decision to let Abby die within 48 hours. Ira goes to the hospital and thanks Abby for allowing him to win lots of money off her death. He walks into an MRI room and a mysterious force turns the machine on. The metal on his body starts to pull him apart when Abby's spirit appears and sets him on fire. Cliff puts out the fire and then publicly offers the money from the settlement to anyone who can provide skin for Abby's transplant. Will that be enough to save Abby and more importantly, save Cliff from Abby's spirit?

Snap into a Slim Jim

If it wasn't obvious, Right To Die relies heavily on the right to die case of Terri Schiavo. That heavily politicized incident still has ramifications today. If you type “Terri” into Google, her name is the first to come up. Does something so personal and political make for a fun horror movie? No, not really. It's one thing to have your horror movie “based on actual events” like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which is very loosely based on Ed Gein, it's another to have your movie literally based on actual events. It's kind of like having a horror movie based on the Trayvon Martin killing. Too soon, too political, and it's something that we do not to continuously relive. As for the actual movie, the way the story is told is a bit stunted as we only find out more of the story at the very end, thus negating most of our conceptions of the previous 50 minutes.

Another problem is that they make Cliff too likable. He cheated on his wife, got her into an accident, and can't decide if he wants to take her off life support. All of this and they still manage to not make him come off as a terrible person. This is supposed to be some sort of supernatural revenge movie and the audience is conflicted with cheering for Abby and cheering for him. The acting is decent enough throughout, with Corbin Bernsen putting in his typical Corbin Bernsen performance. If you've seen Major League or really anything else he's done, you know what I'm talking about. There are some decent horror scenes, violence, and nudity, so you'll have plenty to look at. The makeup on Abby is pretty realistic and the team involved should be commended for making her look so gross and beef jerky-like.

"I should have stayed with the Cleveland Indians!"

Making a horror movie out of a sad and divisive news story makes me feel all types of uncomfortable. Add that to a pretty boring story and you're not in for a good time. There's some action and horror, but nothing spectacular. The acting and directing are fine and there's enough nudity and sex to make you think twice before seeing this with young people. Overall, Right To Die is not a must-watch.


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